A sidewalk (chiefly North American English), pavement (British English and Philadelphia dialect), footpath (Australian English, Irish English, Indian English and New Zealand English) or footway (Engineering term) is a path for pedestrians that is situated alongside a road or formed like sidewalks that are alongside roads (such as a concrete footpath through a park). A sidewalk may accommodate moderate changes in grade. However, "walkway" is a more complete term for support of walking, and includes stairs, ramps, paseos (passageways) and related off-street tools that provide for a developed pathway.

Construction of sidewalks

In the 19th century and early 20th century, sidewalks of wood were common in some locations. They may still be found at historic beach locations and in conservation areas to protect the land beneath and around, called boardwalks. Contemporary sidewalks are most often made of concrete (particularly in the United States and Canada), tarmac, asphalt, brick (particularly in Europe), stone, slab or (increasingly) rubber [] . Multi-use paths alongside roads are sometimes made of materials that are softer than concrete, such as asphalt.

In the United States, the most common type of sidewalk consists of a poured concrete ribbon with cross-lying strain relief grooves at intervals of ~1 m; this is intended to minimize visible damage from tectonic and temperature fluctuations, both of which can crack longer segments. However, freeze-thaw cycles (in cold-weather regions) and tree root growth can eventually result in damage which requires repair. Brick sidewalks are found in some urban areas, usually for aesthetic purposes. Brick sidewalk construction usually involves the usage of a mechanical vibrator to lock the bricks in place after they have been laid (and/or to prepare the soil before laying). Although this might also be done by other tools (as regular hammers and heavy rolls), a vibrator is often used to speed up the process.

In other countries, suburban pavements are most commonly used. This kind of approach (using pavements) is more economical and sometimes more environmentally-friendly, depending on what material is used (e.g. trass instead of energy intensive Portland cement concrete or petroleum-based materials as asphalt or tar-penetration macadam). In the United Kingdom the suburban pavements are most commonly constructed of tarmac, which is however not more environmentally-friendly. In urban or inner-city areas pavements are most commonly constructed of slabs, stone, or brick depending upon the surrounding street architecture and furniture.

Stone slabs called "flagstones" or "flags" are sometimes used where an attractive appearance is required, as in historic town centres. In other places, pre-cast concrete slabs (called "paving slabs" or, less correctly, "paving stones") are used. These may be coloured or textured to resemble stone.

Effects of sidewalks

The Crash Reduction Factor (used to estimate the expected reduction of crashes during a given period) for the installation of sidewalks averages 74%. [cite paper
first = Albert
last = Gan
coauthors = Joan Shen, Adriana Rodriquez
title = Update of Florida Crash Reduction Factors and Countermeasures to Improve the Development of District Safety Improvement Projects
publisher = State of Florida DOT
date = 2005
url =
format = PDF
id = BD015-04.
accessdate = 2008-03-24
] Note that, compared to sidewalks, the maximum speed limit is a much more significant factor in the likelihood of a vehicle/pedestrian crash. Sidewalk presence has a risk ratio of 0.118, which means that the likelihood of a site with a paved sidewalk being a crash site is 88.2 percent lower than a site without a sidewalk. The speed limit risk ratio is 1.116, which means that a 16.1-km/h (10-mi/h) increase in the limit yields a factor of (1.116)10 or 3. [cite paper
author = McMahon, Patrick J.
coauthors = Charles V. Zegeer, Chandler Duncan,Richard L. Knoblauch, J. Richard Stewart, Asad J. Khattak
publisher = Federal Highway Administration
date = 2002
url =
format = PDF
id = FHWA-RD-01-101.
accessdate = 2008-03-24

Image Gallery

See also

*Curb, Curb ramp
*Desire lines
*Portuguese pavement
*Public space
*Sidewalk chalk


External links

* [ Los Alamos Walkability Advocacy Group]
* [ PEDS] a member-based advocacy group dedicated to making metro Atlanta safe and accessible for all pedestrians.
* [ Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)] , a U.S.A.-based clearinghouse for information for pedestrians (including transit users) and bicyclists.

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(at the side of a street),